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Over 20,000 migrants flee Gujarat in a week; state CM appeals for calm

Over 20,000 migrants flee Gujarat in a week; state CM appeals for calm

Gandhinagar: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday appealed to people not to engage in violence, even as an outfit claimed over 20,000 Hindi-speaking migrants fled the state in the last one week after a spate of attacks following a rape incident.

Rupani claimed that no untoward incident had taken place during the last 48 hours, while state Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja said additional forces have been deployed in industrial areas for the security of migrants.

Since the alleged rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district on September 28, six districts, most of them in north Gujarat, have seen sporadic incidents of violence against Hindi-speaking people, police had said.

The government said more than 400 people have been arrested in connection with the violence which started after a migrant worker from Bihar was nabbed in the rape case.

Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad president Maheshsingh Kushwah claimed that over 20,000 people belonging to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar had already fled Gujarat due to the prevailing situation.

"Over 20,000 migrants from these states have fled due to fear as Hindi-speaking people are being attacked in different parts of the state. All non-Gujaratis should not be seen as culprits for the misdeeds of one person," he said.

Rupani said the situation has been brought under control by police.

"Due to intense efforts by police, the situation is under control and no untoward incident has happened in the last 48 hours.

"We are committed to maintaining law and order, and people can call police in case of trouble. We will provide them security," Rupani said in Rajkot.

Minister of State for Home Jadeja, at a press conference Monday in Gandhinagar, said the Centre had been apprised of the steps taken by the Gujarat government to bring the situation under control.

He said 431 people have been arrested and 56 FIRs registered in connection with the attacks on Hindi- speaking people.

Without naming opposition Congress, Jadeja said efforts were underway to find out whether "it is a conspiracy by those who are out of power in Gujarat since the last 22 years".

"The attack on migrant workers is highly condemnable. The chief minister has instructed us to take all necessary steps to stop the attacks.

"I also appeal people not to be misled by those who are inciting people for their political gains," Jadeja said.

He said additional forces have been deployed in industrial areas for the security of migrants.

"Only a handful of people are involved in this. We have deployed additional forces in industrial areas for the security of migrants.

"We have also decided to set up points (camps) for the State Reserve Police (SRP) and increase patrolling in such areas," Jadeja said.

While police have arrested several members of the Thakor Sena in connection with the attacks and also mentioned the outfit's name in some of the FIRs, its president and Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor alleged that youth from the community were being falsely implicated.

Jadeja, responding to a query on Thakor's allegations, said action will be taken against anyone who disturbs peace.

"Police is not harassing any innocent person from a community. But we will take action against those who are disturbing Gujarat's peace," said Jadeja.

Hours after the rape of the toddler in a village near Himmatnagar town, around 100km from Ahmedabad, police arrested Ravindra Sahu, a labourer hailing from Bihar and working in a local ceramic factory, for the crime.

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